Reveal emotional abuse? - Talk About Marriage
Experiences in Counseling Have you been through professional marriage or relationship counseling? Are you considering it? This section is for topics related to seeing a therapist.

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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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Reveal emotional abuse?

I live with a functional alcoholic who emotionally abuses me. It's not the most extreme case, and I had such low self esteem that I have allowed it for many years without awareness until in 2012 when I did the unthinkable - I quit drinking without his support (or permission).

We are about to go into marriage counseling as a last resort, as I have finally hit my limit when it comes to his mind games and I told him that I have fallen out of love with him and our incessant arguments have reached the point where I believe counseling is all we have left. I've tried to talking it through with him, but he continues to accuse me of being too conditional with my love, too carried away with my feelings, too interested in boosting my self esteem at the risk of our marriage. I see him as being the culprit, however much I am trying to acknowledge that I have played the victim role.

I want to outline the ways he's abused me emotionally with our couples counselor, because I see that and his alcoholism as being huge obstacles to our marital health. In a lot of ways I've given up, and I am still fearful that I won't be heard by the therapist or seen as being stuck in a blame game - and being given poor advice that just feeds into our unhealthy dynamic.

I have never been in couples counseling, and until a few weeks ago, my husband said he would never ever go to therapy and frankly doesn't believe in it unless it's good for telling his side of the story. Will he charm his way through and to my detriment? Is there a way to present the facts without judgement so that they are taken seriously by all parties?

Thoughts? Experience?


Last edited by rainbow12; 02-28-2013 at 03:15 PM.
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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 08:15 AM
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

Maybe a good way to go about it would be to have an individual session with the counselor first before you start your couples counseling. I know that our MC met with both of us individually before we started going together. It may give him/her a chance to see each side and decide on where to start.
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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Reveal emotional abuse?

I did speak with her on the phone but only talked about his aversion to therapy. He was encouraged to call her in advance but I don't believe he has.

Would I be leading the witness by planting seeds? But then again my husband fears that women automatically get favored anyway.
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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 10:38 AM
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

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But then again my husband fears that women automatically get favored anyway.
Is it Okay to ask what had actually made your h finally "pushed" himself into accepting a therapy/MC if he was dismissive of MC for some time? Well done to you.

I personally don't think "emotional abuse" would be seen as a an odd or taboo subject in MC where drink or drug abuse (or both) would be involved to be honest.

He can ask for a male therapist can't he?
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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 10:50 AM
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

I wouldn't label it going into the discussion.
I would focus on your feelings and then give an instance of when your feelings have been hurt. The counselor will probably ask for other instances. But don't try to jump the gun. Stick to the process of staying with what you know, which are your feelings.
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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Reveal emotional abuse?

The challenge for me is to use facts and quotes to support the stories behind my feelings. My word against his? The concept of couples therapy baffles me.

If I say I feel belittled, and if I am told by the therapist to just stop feeling that way because my husband doesn't mean it- I still have to tolerate his statements and then his judgement that I'm being too sensitive or making a mountain out of a molehill. When I ignore his words, I cut off my heart a little more. I'd rather have a loving companion.

Last edited by rainbow12; 02-28-2013 at 03:13 PM. Reason: Missed a key word!
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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 02:07 PM
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

My husband does this on occasion; so I know what you mean. I don't think my h's mother would ever suspect him to be this way either. (after all, that's HIS Mother who thinks he's so wonderful lol)

As much as I fear being condemned by saying this but some males can be very mean, verbally. Really mean. Alcohol probably worsens it in your h's case.

He may probably want a drinking company, I should think. Alcoholism is a serious illness. Accolade to your recovery!
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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 02:10 PM
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

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Originally Posted by rainbow12 View Post
I am told by the therapist to just stop feeling that way because my husband doesn't mean it- I still have to tolerate his statements and then his judgement that I'm being too sensitive or making a mountain out of a molehill. When I ignore his words, I cut off my heart a little more. I'd rather have a loving companion.
Sounds like your therapist is useless!! Sorry to be blunt.
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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

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Originally Posted by Omegaa View Post
Is it Okay to ask what had actually made your h finally "pushed" himself into accepting a therapy/MC if he was dismissive of MC for some time? Well done to you.

I personally don't think "emotional abuse" would be seen as a an odd or taboo subject in MC where drink or drug abuse (or both) would be involved to be honest.

He can ask for a male therapist can't he?
He is fine with a therapist that was recommended by his friend who "solved" their marital issues in just 5 sessions. She's a woman. We haven't met her in person yet.

We are going after he said in August 2012 that he would never agree to therapy. But since we've been trying to work it out since then on our own, we are really at wit's end since we are not succeeding. Every time we have a fight that we both hated, I suggest that we get a therapist to help us. I have made it clear that I'm ready to end the relationship, which I am. I wasn't, until he's challenged me every single month to make a decision about whether I want to stay with him. How many times will I say that I want to be in the relationship, then listen to him saying that I don't want to be in the relationship, before I say - I don't want to be in it?

Last edited by rainbow12; 02-28-2013 at 03:18 PM.
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

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Sounds like your therapist is useless!! Sorry to be blunt.
I wrote that poorly, hoping the "if" at the beginning of the sentence would still apply.

We haven't been to the therapist yet. It's my fear talking.

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post #11 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 03:43 PM
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

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Originally Posted by rainbow12 View Post
The challenge for me is to use facts and quotes to support the stories behind my feelings. My word against his? The concept of couples therapy baffles me.

If I say I feel belittled, and if I am told by the therapist to just stop feeling that way because my husband doesn't mean it- I still have to tolerate his statements and then his judgement that I'm being too sensitive or making a mountain out of a molehill. When I ignore his words, I cut off my heart a little more. I'd rather have a loving companion.
But they are feelings. You don't need to provide facts of things that someone may have done to make you feel that way. That's not how feelings are validated, anyhow. Feelings are created through relationships. All you need to do is to say that you are feeling x, y, z and want to get to a point where you are feeling less x, y, z and maybe even d, e, f. Let your therapist handle everything in between, his or her goal is to facilitate and transform the relationship and the give and take in it. If something like alcoholism is getting in the way, or someone is not relating to you in a way that brings out your best and doesn't give a sh*t whether he gets your best or not, then that will be addressed.

It's not as though in order to be right, you need to make someone else wrong, or for someone else to be wrong, you need to be proven to be right.

A relationship is something that people agree to work on together. If you (meaning either party, generically, not specifically you) want to duke it out and assert dominance, head for the mud pit or the divorce court.
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post #12 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

Wow. Very helpful. I don't necessarily want to duke it out and gain dominance, but in a way that's how it has played out so far.

I want him to be loving, but not if that means isolating myself from friends or not spending some time on activities I really enjoy, or accepting his "Old Man River" unsolicited advice and his criticisms masked as British sarcasm.

So I've tried to point out to him what he is doing, ignoring his barbs, telling him how I feel despite what he thinks I should feel. When he feels badly, his first instinct is to preemptively (verbally) attack me instead of just telling me how he feels. I feel like I am trying to pull out the plug so the electric saw stops running. It's super challenging to not try to touch the plug and pretend that the saw doesn't scare me or have the potential to hurt me if it gets too close.
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post #13 of 36 (permalink) Old 02-28-2013, 07:58 PM
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

R12. Any therapist worth his or her salt is not going to discount the effect that his alcoholism is having on your relationship. That is the elephant in the room. From what you've listed above -- the things he's accusing you of, his predisposition against counseling, his assumptions that women always come out ahead -- I don't honestly know if couples counseling will do any good the way he is right now. It doesn't sound like he's in a place to accept any responsibility. It won't matter who's saying something to him (you or a counselor) he's going to take it as an attack.

Have been able to attend Al-Anon meetings, or do any reading on emotional abuse, or attend support groups for abused women? Those might be extremely helpful to you, as an adjunct to MC. Whether or not he keeps going, you have been affected by living with him, and you have healing you need to do. If you feel like you are constantly defending your feelings in therapy, then you don't have a good therapist. Again, his drinking has got to be given center stage before you can work on your relationship.

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post #14 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 10:16 AM
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

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R12. Any therapist worth his or her salt is not going to discount the effect that his alcoholism is having on your relationship. That is the elephant in the room. From what you've listed above -- the things he's accusing you of, his predisposition against counseling, his assumptions that women always come out ahead -- I don't honestly know if couples counseling will do any good the way he is right now.


As a victim of an emotionally abusive husband who was depressed and drank and smoked pot to self medicate, I can understand what you are going through. The hard truth is that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get any benefit from marriage counseling without removing the impediment of alcohol.

I second the suggestion of going to Al-Anon. And then go to the library and check out Steven Stosny's book "Love Without Hurt".
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post #15 of 36 (permalink) Old 03-01-2013, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Reveal emotional abuse?

The elephant in the room has been revealed and parades around the house on a regular basis. He hates that I am not embracing the alcohol nor blithely accepting the drunkenness and associated behaviors anymore - now that I don't drink. I haven't given him an ultimatum, mostly because I felt guilty for quite awhile for changing our dynamic by quitting. Now I don't feel guilty, but believe that it is his decision to make. I know it's not good for his health, but I'm mostly focused on his actions towards me instead of how he's hurting himself.

I have been reading a lot of books and websites on emotional abuse, including "Love Without Hurt," "Controlling People," "Who's Pulling Your Strings," "Emotional Blackmail," "In Sheep's Clothing," "Your Perfect Right," "Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me," "Beyond Codependency," "Is It You, or Is It Me," "and Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay." The most recent one was "Take the Bully by the Horns." I brought home "Getting the Love You Want," and he refused to talk about it, let alone read it. Told me that he really distrusts my reading the Self Help books. Well, I sure have been reading a heck of a lot. Going to IC, and mustering up the courage to let go of marriage if necessary for my mental health.

I have been attending Al-Anon for the last two months, but have not engaged in the Steps. The group I'm in is solution and healing focused.
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